Darkness isn't all-bad!
"But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that their works may be clearly seen as done in God." (Jn 3:21)
Lent has a habit of making you face your faith journey whether you like it or not. Things happen to us so that we are forced to look again at where we are, I'm not not sure why this is so, perhaps its simply that even if we are a fairly passive Christian, the journey of these 40 days seeps into our unconscious and, at least in this part of the world, the long winter is coming to an end and the days begin to grow longer, this is a time when the dying winter holds up its brokenness and in the light of the warming sun hints of resurrection start appearing.
These contrasts, death, birth, light, dark, cold and warmth make up a rich cycle of living experience. The animals know instinctively, much more than we, of shifts and changes in Mother Earth's weather and seasons, but these changes we experience mean that nothing remains the same for long, the rhythm of life carries on, everything has its place. Yet, I wonder why we pick certain images and invest them with negative images. Why is it for instance that darkness is seen as bad, light as good. True the Gospels remind us that evil-doers like to cover up their deeds and so we can describe bad people liking the 'dark' because it hides things, but the dark isn't itself evil!
Light may show up things in a direct or perhaps 'truthful' way, but too much light, too much sun is bad, destructive and harmful. Isn't it a question of balance, of keeping a clear perspective on things? If we think of that image of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent so that those bitten by snakes might look on it and be healed and link that with Jesus' self identification of being lifted up on the cross, so we may gaze on him and see that we too are healed, helps put things in a better way. It's a reminder that God in mercy and love can use what may appear to us as bad, destruction, death, and sin, for good ends. That cross of suffering is the key that opens the door of death and lets in the brilliance of the resurrection. We need the dark as much as the light, but it's the soft light and gentle darkness, the soothing time of dreams and inner healing, a dark that envelopes us in another light, that of the moon, of Christ, who is as Bede says 'our Morning Star which never sets"
Christ is the morning star who when the night of this world is past brings to his saints the promise of the light of life and opens everlasting day.
"When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance." Thomas Merton
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